The Kid

The Kid (2000)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Bruce Willis, Lily Tomlin, Spencer Breslin, Emily Mortimer
Extras: Commentary Track, Director Interview, Featurette, Director Biography, Theatrical Trailer

I always pay close attention to movie titles. I’m not talking about just the movies, I’m talking about the actual name of the movie. While movie stars and plots typically sell a picture, a title can also play a big role into a film’s success. Despite the saturation of entertainment news in our society, there are still those individuals who go to the movie theater with no knowledge of what’s playing (Hello! Buy a newspaper!) and pick a movie solely based on the title. Therefore, the title should give the viewer an idea of what the film is about. Therefore, it came as a huge shock that "Disney’s ’The Kid’" became a huge success, bringing in $70 million domestically. "Disney’s ’The Kid’"? What the heck is that about? Walt’s son? Well, despite the bizarre title, the film is a sweet-natured family film that delivers on many levels. "Disney’s ’The Kid’" is now available as "Disney’s The DVD".

‘The Kid’ stars Bruce Willis as Russ Duritz, an image consultant. Russ is a humorless man, who has no time for family or friends, and enjoys his job where he gets to tell people what to do and how to live. Russ shows no emotion, and can’t tolerate people who do. The only people who are close to Russ are his personal assistant Janet (Lily Tomlin) and his associate, Amy (Emily Mortimer of "Scream 3"). Russ may not be a happy man, but he is a professional success. But, two days before his 40th birthday, something strange happens to Russ. He begins to see a young boy in his house. Once he finally confronts The Kid (Spencer Breslin), Russ is shocked to learn that this child is actually him… when he was eight years old. The Kid (who goes by Rusty in the film) is just as confused as Russ as to why he has traveled though time to the year 2000.

Being the consummate professional, Russ tackles the situation in an analytical and emotional manner. When he learns that others can indeed see Rusty, Russ determines that there must be a purpose for Rusty’s visit. Russ assumes that he must help Rusty with something. But, as the two grow closer, and their similarities emerge, Russ begins to understand that this miracle may be destined to help both of them.

’The Kid’ has a three-act structure, but it doesn’t follow the typical format. The first 20 minutes of the film are almost criminally boring, as we are introduced to Bruce Willis’ character. Russ is such a stereotypical cold fish, that we didn’t need to spend that much time getting to know him. Once Rusty shows up, the pace of the film picks up considerably, and becomes much more enjoyable. So, for an hour, the film is interesting, but still not great. It’s in the last 20 minutes, especially the last 10, that the movie really hits its stride. ’The Kid’ throws an emotional curve-ball during the final act that should melt the heart of most any viewer. This powerful ending redeems the film and allows the viewer to forgive the films earlier mistakes.

"Disney’s ’The Kid’" does a very good job of introducing a fantasy story, while keeping things very believable. Let’s face it, this is a science-fiction film, in which characters travel back and forth through time. However, the movie takes all of this in stride and never lets the fantastic overwhelm the reality. Of course, this could lead some viewers to have what I call the "Deep Blue Sea" Effect. For, as moving as the finale is, once the film is over, you will realize that it didn’t make any sense at all. (I know who was in the red plane, but I still don’t get it.) Another refreshing point about the film is the character of Rusty. The commercials for the film made him out to look bratty and annoying. But, he isn’t. The pivotal point about Rusty’s character is that he’s just as confused and scared as Russ. Rusty just wants to go home to 1968. This makes Rusty a much more compassionate character and the audience instantly bonds to him. Besides the slow opening, and the confusing ending, the only other problem that I had with ’The Kid’ was the music, which swells as if it were infected.

The DVD release of "Disney’s ’The Kid’" continues Buena Vista Home Video’s recent string of competent DVD packages. The film is presented in an <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen>, and is <$PS,letterboxed> at 1.85:1. This is an average looking transfer. The image is sharp and clear, and there is some minute grain visible at times. There are some obvious defects from the source print, in the form of white spots and black marks. This is surprising, as this film is so recent. I assume that Disney used the cleanest print available, but this is an unusual occurrence for a major studio release and it may have been a good idea to simply strike a new interpositive for this transfer. The colors are very rich and true, most notable exhibited in the mysterious red bi-plane which appears throughout the film. This digital transfer shows no problems with artifacting or compression.

The audio on this DVD is a <$DD,Dolby Digital> <$5.1,5.1 channel> mix. This audio track gives us a nice sound field and makes nice use of the surround sound feature. This track offers clear and audible dialogue, and gives body to the ever-present musical score. There is a nice utilization of the rear speakers to enhance sound effects (once again: the plane), and ambient sound. There was a noticeable lack of bass response and little, if any, action from the subwoofer.

The DVD of "Disney’s ’The Kid’" features a handful of special features. The most interesting is the <$commentary,audio commentary> featuring director Jon Turtletaub and star Spencer Breslin. This is a refreshingly different commentary, as Turtletaub and Breslin combine both technical discussions, with behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the film. Breslin talks constantly and asks questions non-stop, but it never gets annoying. He’s actually asking good questions, mostly referring to filmmaking secrets. But, he also wonders about continuity, with questions like, "Why is he making a shake at 3am?" Turtletaub shows great patience with Breslin and explains everything in simple terms. This will be great for those viewers who aren’t familiar with all of the technical terminology. This commentary is fun and is one of the few that can be enjoyed by adults, without the kids getting bored.

"Conversations with Jon Turtletaub" gives us an interview with director Turtletaub, where he discusses his work on not only "Disney’s ’The Kid’", but also on his other films. These segments features behind-the-scenes footage from "Phenomenon", "Instinct", "While You Were Sleeping" and "Cool Runnings". It also offers comments from actors who have worked with Turtletaub.

"A Kid Becomes ’The Kid’" is a behind-the-scenes featurette, which is hosted by "The Kid" himself, Spencer Breslin. This 16-minute feature has been spilt up into four parts, which can be watched separately, or as a group. "The Search Begins" deals with the casting process, and the search for the actor to play "The Kid". "He-e-e-e-re’s Spencer!" gives an overview of how Breslin was trained and equipped for the role. "Becoming Bruce Willis" explores how Breslin attempted to take on Willis’ mannerisms. And, "It’s a Wrap!" offers footage from the film’s premiere. Each of these segments offers clips from the film, behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with the cast and crew. Breslin does a good job hosting this segment, and displays the same charm, which he exhibited in the film.

The final two extra features on the DVD are the theatrical trailer for "Disney’s ’The Kid’", which is presented full-frame, and a gushing bio for Jon Turtletaub, which makes him out to be the best director working today. Move over Spielberg!

Despite the fact that it was touted as a comedy, "Disney’s ’The Kid’" plays much more like a drama. (Although, Bruce Willis does have one hilarious line during the boxing scene.) The film has a poignant message about fulfilling one’s childhood dreams and being true to oneself. Stick with the film through the subdued opening, and you should find a warm, and moving film that’s appropriate for all ages. The DVD offers some nice features that, in an unusual move, should appeal to tech-heads and general audiences as well. I must admit, that I enjoyed ’The Kid’ more than I’d expected. Now, I just want to see a sequel where an 8-year old Ash shows up in the middle of "Evil Dead 2". "I grow up to be a moron with a chainsaw-hand?!"